Metro Health offers free screenings for hunters before they head into the woods

generic-metro-healthAs West Michigan hunters head back to the woods, Metro Health Hospital will host a free Hunters Screening on Saturday, Oct. 22.


Metro Heart and Vascular and trauma services team members will be on hand for the session, which runs 7:30-11:30 a.m. in the main lobby of the hospital at 5900 Byron Center Ave. SW.  Various screens will be done to determine risk for heart attacks and other cardiac issues.


“Hunting is more than just sitting in a tree stand. It’s important to check up on your health before heading after that buck,” Dr. Matthew Sevensma of Metro Heart and Vascular said.  “Walking miles to your tree stand, climbing, tracking if necessary and then hauling back that perfect deer can really stress your body if you are unaccustomed to the exertion.


“While you don’t need to be in peak physical condition, you will want to be sure your body can handle the level of activity necessary to keep you safe while you are out in the field.”


In a study conducted by Michigan’s Beaumont Hospital which was published in 2007 in the American Journal of Cardiology, 25 middle-aged hunters, 17 of whom had been diagnosed with coronary artery disease, were fitted with heart monitors.


white tail buckDuring deer season, all but three exceeded the maximum rate they had achieved on a treadmill test. Dragging downed game raised heart rates to the most dangerous levels, but several men experienced jumps into the red zone simply from spotting or shooting at a deer.


According to study co-author Dr. Barry Franklin, the strain hunting puts on the heart is attributed to three factors: hunting’s strenuous nature, the epinephrine (or “excitement”) response upon seeing game and environmental stresses, including cold weather and altitude.


Franklin also notes that many hunters in the study exhibited life-threatening heart-rhythm irregularities (aka cardiac arrhythmia) that had not been apparent on EKG readouts during laboratory treadmill tests. This was a disturbing finding. Heart arrhythmia is the trigger for cardiac arrest.


Sevensma advised:

  • Avoid hunting alone
  • Let a friend or relative know where you are hunting and when you expect to be back
  • Bring a cell phone in case of emergencies
  • Practice tree stand safety
  • Know the symptoms of a heart attack: shortness of breath, cold sweats and chest pressure or pain and/or pain that radiates to your shoulders, arm, jaw or back


Space is limited and registration is required. The screen will include a number of tests, including:

  • An EKG to determine cardiac risk
  • Cholesterol test
  • Body mass index
  • Blood pressure screen
  • Glucose test, which requires an eight-hour fast in advance


For more information or to register, call 616.252.5963 or visit Additional information on hunter safety is available at